Imago Decidendi

On the Common Law of Images

in Brill Research Perspectives in Art and Law
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The digitization of law and of law reporting has greatly facilitated the transmission and use of images in legal decisions. While advocates have long been aware of the persuasive value of graphs, photographs, film, animatrix, the manipulation of images in judicial decisions has received little sustained attention. This article reviews the literature on the visual turn in legal studies and applies its lessons, historical and theoretical, to the apprehension of the juristic value and precedential status of images in judgments. The visual apparatuses of law are increasingly becoming its primary mode not only of transmission but also of reasoning, authorizing and judging. Such a dramatic shift in forum and medium to the online and digital necessitates a comparable transfer of method, a movement to sensuous apprehension, ad apparentiam, by appearance, in place of the traditional hermeneutic ad similia, or by analogy.

Imago Decidendi

On the Common Law of Images

in Brill Research Perspectives in Art and Law



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Marie-José MondzainConfiscation: Des mots des images et du temps (Paris: Les liens qui libèrent2017) 143.


See Louis-George SchwartzMechanical Witness: A History of Motion Picture Evidence in U.S. Courts (Oxford: Oxford University Press2009) for an adumbration of the early history of the admissibility of photographs and film in court. Richard Sherwin Visualizing Law provides a survey of current developments and so too Wagner and Sherwin (eds) Law Culture and Visual Studies (New York: Springer 2014).


Piero ValerianoHieroglyphica sive de sacris Aegyptiorum literis commentarii (Basle: np1556) and see the commentary of Peter Manning in Abraham Fraunce Philosophiae symbolicae liber quartus [1590] (New York: ams Press 1991).


VarroDe lingua latina6 78. (fictor cum dicit fingo figuram imponit).


John SmithThe Mysterie of Rhetorique Unvail’d (London: Cotes1657) at 4.


Johanne SusenbrotoEpitome troporum ac schematum et grammaticorum rhetorum (Lyons: Frellon1551) at 8: Schemata etiam orationis lumina exornationes ac colores appellantur.


Guillame de PerrièreLe Thëatre des bons engins (Paris: Janot1540) Epistre. I have used Combe’s fine translation.


Barthelèmy AneauJurisprudentia a primo et divino sui ortu ad nobilem Biturigum Academiam deducta (Lyon: Sagittaire1554) Title page.


Petrus CostaliusPegma cum narrationis philosophicis (Lyon: Bonhomme1555). The French edition Coustau Pegme (Lyon: Molin 1560).


Jacob BruckEmblemata politica (Cologne: Heyden1668) 1.


FraunceInsignium armorum emblematum hieroglyphicorum et symbolorum (London: Owen1588) fol. M 2 (quo aliquid occultatur).


Le MoyneL’Art des devises (Paris: Cramoisy1665) frontispiece.


Georges Didi-HubermanL’Image ouverte (Paris: Gallimard2007) at 37.


Alexander Nagel and Christopher WoodAnachronic Renaissance (New York: Zone Books2013) ch. 1.


Friedrich NietzscheTwlight of the Idols (Edinburgh: T.N. Foulis1911) (How the real world became a myth) discussed at length in Paolo Bertetto Le mirroir et le simulacra: Le cinéma dans le monde devenu fable (Rennes: Presses Universitaire de Rennes 2014).


Chiara BotticiImaginal Politics (New York: Columbia University Press2014) ch 1. This is also what Mondzain Confiscation 143–164 argues for in terms of the radicality of the image.


FreudThe Interpretation of Dreams (New York: Avon Books1965) at 529.


John TaylorMad Fashions Od Fashions All out of Fashions Or The Emblems of these Distracted times (London: Hammond1642) frontispiece.




M. PerniolaLa società dei simulacra (Bologna: Capelli1990) at 121–22. See further on this point Goodrich ‘The Visial Line’ at 62–63.


J. Baptista (Cardinal de Luca)Theatrum veritatis et iustitiae (Cologne: Lit. Soc.1685); and for discussion Goodrich ‘The Theatre of Emblems’ 11 Law Culture and the Humanities 37 (2011).


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